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"It's the worst time of my life." Q&A panellist struggles for words after question from a woman living on Newstart, & more in News in 5.

-With AAP.

1. “It’s the worst time of my life.” Q&A panellist struggles for words after question from a woman living on Newstart.

An elderly woman has shared her experience with Australia’s Newstart system on Q&A, leaving a Liberal MP struggling for words.

Ricci Bartels told the panel she was forced onto Newstart at 62 following retrenchment at her former employer. She has been unable to find a job for three years.

“I could not find a job no matter how hard I tried. So my question to you wonderful panellists is, how would you suggest people like me ‘have a go to get a go’?” she asked, quoting Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Liberal MP Jason Falinski responds to a question about Newstart on Q&A. Post continues below video.

Video via ABC

In response, Liberal MP Jason Falinski said he “doesn’t know enough” about Bartels’ personal circumstances to comment on her situation, but “we have done a number of things in the government to make sure our systems… is as bespoke as possible”.

He acknowledged that it may not have been as successful as it needed to be in Bartels’ case, but “we keep trying”.

In response, Bartels reiterated her question and gave an insight into her life on Newstart.

“To put it in a nutshell it’s the worst time in my life,” she explained. “The loss of dignity, the loss of friends because you can’t go out, you can’t socialise. Not eating proper foods even though I suffer various ailments. Looking for a job, applying for a job, not getting the job.

“I’m a very skilled person, I’ve been a manager… for me, it was the worst time of my life.

“And Jason with respect, you haven’t answered my question. What do you suggest people like me, at my age or at a young age for that matter, how do they ‘have a go to get a go’? This is so important: ‘Have a go, get a go’, this is so divisive.”

Falinski stumbled over his words, telling Bartels he again could not comment on her personal circumstances.

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“I can’t, I can’t tell you how… I don’t know enough about your life circumstances to comment.

“All I can say is we as a Government are doing as much as we possibly can to create a system that allow people to get as quickly from welfare to work as possible. We have a very highly targeted welfare system in this country. It has been very successful in ensuring poverty levels and inequality are kept low.

“If the system has failed you personally at your, in your particular circumstances, I can only apologise for that. I’d love to know more and we’d love to create a system that makes sure that what has happened to you doesn’t happen to others.”

CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, Cassandra Goldie, said while Bartels had her own individual story, her question represented a “huge problem in our social security system”.

“In case you hadn’t heard it, just about everybody else in the country agrees that Newstart is unbearable. It is not working. And it desperately needs to be increased to something that’s liveable after over 25 years of not having been increased in real terms.

“It’s an absolute travesty that we, as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, have refused to do what a good government would do so far.”

Asked what she would say to Morrison if she had a chance to speak to him personally, Bartels said:

“I would say ‘Prime Minister, in your acceptance speech you said that you would govern with compassion and strength’… I would like to say to Scott Morrison that you can be both compassionate and strong by increasing Newstart,” she said.

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“They actually work together.”

2. Melbourne man accused of murdering daughter’s neighbour over barking dog.


A Melbourne father is accused of shooting dead his daughter’s neighbour after the man allegedly threatened the teenager during a dispute about her barking dogs.

Jason Ashman, 49, is charged with murdering 26-year-old Dwayne Wright at Altona two days before Christmas last year.

One of Ashman’s daughters, 19-year-old Jemma Chumbley, told Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday Mr Wright had made her feel uncomfortable and previously made sexual comments about her.

The night of the alleged murder, Ms Chumbley said her father was visiting, watching movies with her and her sisters, when she heard their dogs start barking and a voice say “shut the f*** up”.

After seeing a man’s face allegedly peering through their windows, Ms Chumbley went outside armed with a baseball bat and told Mr Wright to “stop screaming at my dogs, you’re scaring my sisters”.

Mr Wright is said to have threatened her, with comments including “I’m going to get your house run through” and “I know when you’re home alone,” as well as saying he could get men to come over within minutes, the court was told.

Ashman allegedly told his daughter “get away from that junkie, he’s not worth it”, with Mr Wright replying “I do ice, it’s not as bad as weed”.

The neighbour also allegedly made comments about Ashman being a pedophile before Ms Chumbley turned around to see her father holding a gun, and tried to push and pull him away from the scene.

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“When you pushed your dad, is it possible the gun went off?” Ashman’s barrister Ashley Halphen asked.

“Yes,” Ms Chumbley replied.

She said she went to the ground when she heard the gun go off and didn’t see Mr Wright being shot.

She thought he was still alive when she said “we need to go, he’s going to get more people”.

“I was so frightened,” she told the court.

Ms Chumbley is expected to continue giving evidence at the committal hearing on Tuesday.

Ashman’s mother, Rosanna, is also charged over the incident.

She appeared in court alongside her son, but is on bail, accused of helping him flee the scene and later lying to police.

3. Renewed bid to introduce pill testing in Victoria shot down by the state government.


A renewed bid to introduce pill testing in Victoria has been quickly stamped out by the state government.

The Greens are pushing for a 24-month trial to combat overdose deaths at music festivals to get underway by 2020.

The minor party on Monday also hoped there would be scope to extend the proposed two-year trial for a further four years.

“We know that most people choose to throw out their drugs when informed that they contain harmful substances,” Greens MP Tim Read said.

As part of the trial, a fixed laboratory would also be created for year-round testing.

But state Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said pill testing would send the wrong message.

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“We don’t want to be giving young people a false sense of hope, that may well potentially have fatal consequences,” she said.

“It is important that we safeguard our young people attending music festivals.

“We’ve got no intentions to change our views on this matter,” she said.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien argued that sending the message that illicit drugs are okay is not the way to reduce use.

“You can die from an overdose from a pure tablet, just as you can from an adulterated tabled,” he said.

Canberra’s Groovin the Moo festival was Australia’s first to allow pill testing in 2018. A second trial also ran earlier this year.

The Greens’ bill, first flagged in February, is named in memory of 34-year-old Daniel Buccianti, who died at the Rainbow Serpent music festival after taking LSD in 2012.

It would create a mobile facility to test drugs at festivals, with amnesty bins available for party-goers to ditch the substances.

Mr Buccianti’s mother, Adriana, supports the proposal and said no parent should have to go through what she did.

“But in the last 12 months, at least five other families have lost their child from drug overdoses,” she said.

4. Schoolboy finds thousands in cash floating in Dapto creek.


The phrase ‘awash with cash’ has taken on a new meaning with a “significant” amount of paper currency found floating in a creek near Wollongong.

A member of the public spotted the notes in Mullet Creek on Bong Bong Road at Dapto just after 9am on Monday.

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They took a photo of the bounty and sent it to a relative who came down for a look before calling police.

NSW Fire and Rescue and the SES helped retrieve the cash by scooping it out of the water with a long-handled net and using a small inflatable boat.

The money was taken to Illawarra Police Station where it is being examined “to determine authenticity”.

5. Cloudflare ditches 8chan after El Paso shooter shared manifesto on the platform.


US cyber security firm Cloudflare will terminate online message board 8chan as a customer after a shooter used the forum just before killing 20 people in El Paso, Texas.

The shooter is believed to have posted a four-page statement on 8chan, and called the Walmart attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”.

The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, from Allen, Texas, some 1,046 km east of El Paso, which lies along the Rio Grande, near the US-Mexico border.

The suspect’s post on 8chan expressed support for the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

“We just sent a notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time,” Cloudflare Chief Executive Officer Matthew Prince said in a blog.

“Based on evidence we’ve seen, it appears that he (the gunman) posted a screed to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people,” Prince said.

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